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Smith wins Junior Miss

After hours of singing, dancing and modeling fine clothes,Brookhaven High School’s Shellie Smith was named the new LincolnCounty Junior Miss Saturday night.

The 16-year-old blond was selected as the top of eightcontestants after scoring superior marks in the pageant’s fivecategories – interview, talent, fitness, scholastics andself-expression. Shellie will go on to compete with 81 other girlsfor the title of Mississippi’s Junior Miss this summer andrepresent Lincoln County at a number of local and statewideevents.

“I never thought this would happen to a girl like me,” Shelliesaid Saturday night, moments after her victory. “I am overwhelmedwith excitement.”

Shellie wasn’t sure what to expect as the awards were given outon stage. Unlike some girls who build up toward Junior Miss byparticipating in other school and community pageants, the soccerplayer and pianist had never taken part in any pageant or contestbefore. She decided to enter a pageant to meet people, make newfriends and build up her confidence, and she chose Junior Missbecause it is more than simply a beauty pageant.

“I did not expect to win at all, but I’m glad I did,” Shelliesaid. “I think being myself is what caught (the judges’) eye -being my best self and showing them who I was.”

Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Laura Lee Lewis, a friend ofShellie’s who emceed the pageant, recalled encouraging Smith toenter Junior Miss. She said Shellie was on the fence about enteringthe pageant before a group of friends finally convinced her.Despite Shellie’s lack of contest experience, Lewis – a pageantveteran – was not surprised at her victory.

“You don’t have to be a pageant expert to win Junior Miss, youjust have to work hard and be yourself,” she said.

Shellie’s mother, Brenda Smith, was a joyful, tearful wreck of awoman after her daughter’s victory Saturday. She happily recalledtalking over her daughter’s decision to enter Junior Miss.

“I said, ‘Shellie, we haven’t even practiced and a lot of thesegirls have spent a lot of time practicing.’ She just said, ‘Don’tbe nervous, mom, it’s OK,'” Smith said. “I’m so excited for herbecause we’ve never done anything like this.”

Lorin Lewis, chairman of the Lincoln County Junior Miss Board ofDirectors and show director, said the program is “tickled” withShellie.

“We could not have asked for a better role model for LincolnCounty youth than Shellie Smith,” she said.

The first, second and third Junior Miss alternates were HollyByrd, Allison White and Amy Hoover, respectively.

Other Junior Miss contestants receiving awards were:

* Allison White, the Chuck Ivy Be Yourself Essay Award.

* Tiffany Henderson, Community Service Award.

* Amy Hoover and Laura Leigh Salyer, Spirit of Junior MissAward.

* Holly Byrd, Castles Interview Award.

* Holly Byrd, overall self-expression winner.

* Amy Hoover, overall talent winner.

* Shellie Smith, overall fitness winner.

* Amy Hoover, overall scholastics winner.